Hi, Nate! (Oh, Hi everyone else, too!)
This week I’d like to spend some time looking at a concept put forward by the inimitable Nathan Sutter, longtime member of Duncan Crew and Team SPYY, a fellow alumnus of 365yoyotricks.com, and runner-up at this year’s Fixed Axle Championship of All the World. Nate has put forward a slew of incredible yo-yo elements throughout his career, including (but not limited to) Plastic Whip, Figure Nate, and Shoot the Moon Down Under. At the WYYC this year, he also showed off his Pocketwatch concept, which led to at least 2 consecutive hours of string-burning trick-circlage on that god-forsaken carpet. He also demoed the idea (in an unresponsive context) during his fantastic Alternative Freestyle.
I’d been meaning to explore this idea more since returning from Worlds, but it took me a few weeks to allow the mental carbonation to settle. Pocketwatches are one of the most abrupt and fundamental ways to go from dynamic (spinning) to static (not), which is a key vein running through the fledgling fixed axle style. Although you can get into Pocketwatch with any kind of yo-yo, I feel that it’s best suited to the fixed realm. For one, there’s no distracting bind required to get into it on fixed, and since many of the regenerations out are inherently off-kilter and tough to control, it’s useful to have a yo-yo that’s bent on returning to your hand.
The basic idea is to allow the yo-yo to wind part-way up the string, then grab it before it gets to your throw-hand. Pulling down on the yo-yo abruptly should cause it to cinch and hold, creating a temporary “string-lock”. You can then “do stuff” with the yo-yo partly wound (yet not spinning) until you give it the centripetal force necessary to break the string-lock and spin to life once again. At first, I saw this as a cool novelty concept, but couldn’t really see where it could go. However, as it happens, this concept takes everything fun and kendama-ish about Mark Montgomery’s radical A-minus tricks from a few years back, AND adds the bonus of being able to recall the yo-yo easily.
I hope you enjoy these variations.
The core Pocketwatch concept (demonstrated by Nate in the FS link above) involves flinging the yo-yo around casually with the air of a gentleman waiting for the bus. As you’ll see, most of my examples focus more on trick applications – how can Pocketwatches be applied to, say, a whip, a wrap, a hop, a laceration, etc. Most of the vid is pretty stream-of-consciousness, but there are a few points I can elaborate on. First, if you’re gonna try these tricks (or, more preferably, your own) be prepared to break A LOT of strings and yank the bajesszus out of your throw-hand middle finger. I probably used 10 different yo-yo’s in filming this quick video and had to wrap my finger at one point (what a weeny).
One thing you’ll find is that there are some striking similarities between your everyday Stall-based play and Pocketwatches. The rhythm feels similar, but more importantly, a dead Pocketwatch can be mounted, at which point it effectively IS a stall. What’s different is that while a Stall has tons of potential energy behind it (being almost fully wound), a Pocketwatch’s energy is blocked by the string-lock. This means stuff like kickflips are possible, but anything involving a regen into another hold is more difficult. Also, whereas you can’t really do Eli Hops, Lacerations, and other “dynamic” tricks within a stall, it’s pretty easy to do them in a Pocketwatch setup, provided you’re careful about keeping things straight.
One trick that I think is worth mentioning is “Eat Pray Love”, which was developed collectively at Worlds by Nate, Drew, and myself. I love the way it goes from the Kendo prayer-catch to the “Love” hold between the elbows. It’s one of the few examples in this vid where the cinch is seamlessly integrated into the rest of the trick (the underarm cinch at 0:12 is another).
I can’t claim to know ANYTHING about the Moebius sub-style, but Pocketwatches definitely lend themselves to taking the string off your finger. I go outside for a couple of Pocketwatch Moebicides (am I using that term correctly?), and I really like the idea of looping with one hand, suiciding to the other, and then continuing to loop.
I reference one of my favorite simple kendama tricks at 1:32 in Faster Than Gravity. Snap-start into a vertical Pocketwatch, and then let the bottom fall out. The catch is actually really easy, and you can drop into a normal Trapeze or a Lunar Landing.
The wrap combo at 1:50 is also pretty fun. Needless to say, my wraps are nothing special and totally elementary, but how often can you really DO ANY WRAPS with fixed axle? Using a Pocketwatch hold enables you to forget about that whole pesky, yo-yo-must-keep-spinning issue. You can always just restart it later!
Another of my new favorites is the Hard Restart at 2:18. If you slam it straight enough and hard enough, you can blast through the string-lock you’ve created and bring a Pocketwatch immediately back to a fully-spinning Trapeze. Bear in mind, depending on your restart, the yo-yo may be spinning the regular way or in reverse when you do this. Another way to actively reengage the spin is to wind the yo-yo OVER the string-lock and do some loops, gravity pulls, or Planet Hops before SLAMMING the yo-yo down and through the cinch. Just as offstring players have shown us through the years, there is a LOT we can explore here.
Near the end, you’ll find a fun reference to Adam Brewster’s Folding Gates concept. 5 years later, I’m still fascinated by what he was doing in Bend and Fold. It’s hard to do folds with a stalled yo-yo. I messed around with this in a Tunnels context in the Static 1a Applications vid, but the yo-yo wants to squeak and squirm around so much, it’s pretty tough. But the Pocketwatch hold keeps it in line a bit, and a simple fold out of a GT Pocketwatch is pretty manageable.
Needless to say, there’s some other stuff in the vid as well, and all of it is PATENT PENDING!!! Although, I probably owe Nate royalties anyway, since it all starts with his concept. Hope you enjoy playing around with this concept. Let us know what you find in the comments!
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